How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

The key to true happiness in life is forgiveness. But you know that it’s not always easy to forgive.

Are you having trouble with letting go, moving on, and forgiving someone so you can move forward?

In fact, you can learn how to let go of the past and move on, so you can take back your life!

Free yourself from burden.

You’ve probably already realized that forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. It’s not condoning what they did — it’s freeing yourself from that heavy burden.

Forgiveness is by no means saying, “It’s okay.” Forgiveness is saying, “I’m not gonna let this harbor inside me and hurt me anymore.”

Put the past in perspective.

Keeping the bigger picture in mind — that all of us have already made pretty much every kind of bad mistake we can in our many lives — can help put things in perspective.

Knowing we have all been where that person is at some point, even though it may seem unfathomable right now, can make it easier to move forward.

See yourself in that person, and let that help you to see them through a less-angry lens.

Everyone will always have consequences for their actions.

There is no way to escape our consequences, so they will have to settle that karma at some point.

When they cross over, they will feel every ounce of pain they caused you exactly as you felt it.

So, let go of any need to make them pay — that’s not in your hands. Let go of that burden — you don’t have to be the judge and jury.

And if you do seek revenge, that will only give you karma you will have to face — it’s never worth it.

You don’t have to be around this person if you think you shouldn’t. But what you do need to do is let it go, because it is only hurting you — not them.

Don’t feed them more energy.

Thinking and replaying it actually feeds them energy and gives them attention, which I’m sure is not what you want to do.

You may not truly know how to forget something they’ve done to hurt you. Trying to understand where they were coming from can also cause breakthroughs towards forgiveness.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Factor in all the circumstances and where they are and have been in life.

When we know better, we do better. If their consciousness isn’t there, they just don’t fully understand their actions.

Another thing to keep in mind on an even deeper level (which can sometimes be hard to understand on Earth) is that we are all one.

So, their mistake is your mistake, and you forgiving them is also you forgiving yourself.

Find something — anything — where you can relate to this person in some way. Finding similarities can help shatter the walls between you, which humanizes them more.

Is there any element of judgment you have towards this person?

Judgment usually comes from our own insecurities about ourselves. Know that this person is right where they are supposed to be based on their choices at this moment.

Judging their choices isn’t up to us.

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We all have free will to make our choices and judging others on their free will won’t get you anywhere.

Any time you feel like you are judging someone, turn it inwards instead.

Think to yourself: Is that something you do that you wish you didn’t, and that’s why it’s striking a chord in you?

When we are above something, it can’t affect us. So, look deeply at why it is affecting you.

Focus on what you can control.

Instead, focus on what you can do in your own life to make changes to make you happy.

You can’t live anyone else’s life for them. So, always focus on yourself and what you can do differently.

Getting distracted by others and worrying about their lives just takes you off your own path. So look for that, notice it, and turn things back to yourself.

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Always turn things back to you and take control.

If a person is hurting you, take control and get them out of your life. Know that you always have power over yourself.

Your choices attracted this person. Nothing ever just happens to us — we create it.

Look into and change whatever you need to.

Knowing you always have the power and taking steps to prevent similar wrongdoing in the future can help you to feel secure and move forward.

Can you have better boundaries in the future? Think that through and implement it going forward.

Protect yourself from more wrongs, but don’t put a shell up so that you can’t let any good things in as well.

A wall up to protect you not only protects you from letting the bad in, but also any good.

Walls also can attract more bad because you are telling the universe you need protection. You create your life, so circumstances you need protection from will materialize.

But once you learn how to stop negative thoughts from hindering your path to forgiveness, you learn how to move on from the past.

So, leave all of that in the past and focus on what changes you can make to move forward and be happy. Sitting in what happened in the past will only block you from moving forward.

Once you release that, you will be open to new opportunities going forward.

Remind yourself that you have probably made that same mistake in a past life, that not everyone is in the same place in their journey as you, and that is perfect.

Forgiving and moving forward is better for your soul, so don’t worry about theirs! We can only control our own lives.

You can do this! Focus on creating your best life and leave the past there.

You will feel so much better!

Kristine Carlson is a psychic medium, advanced soul realignment practitioner, life coach, and author. If you would like, you can get a Soul Realignment Reading And Clearing or a convenient, personal email reading, clearing, or personal coaching from Kristine on her website.

This article was originally published at Psychic Medium Readings By Kristine’s Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.

It’s not easy to make peace with the past and forgive ourselves for a mistake we’ve made in the past. Although the only way to let go of the past is to forgive ourselves, it is difficult. Forgiveness is a choice, and to be able to forgive someone or ourselves requires kindness and understanding. If you tried to move on in life and tried to forgive yourself for a past mistake, you would have ended up being your worst enemy, and you must have fought a losing battle. But it is extremely necessary to understand the right steps to get you out of that rut.

Why Is It Important To Forgive Yourself?

Self-forgiveness is one of the hardest aspects to deal with your past actions because there is nobody else you can apologize for. If your inner self blames you for some error and makes you feel guilty every minute of every single day, it will affect your mental and physical health. As a consequence, you may become a bitter person and even begin to hate your existence.

Tips To Forgive Yourself:

It is not as easy to figure out how you can forgive yourself for past errors and take the right steps to proceed. However, with a few ways outlined below, you can start moving in the right direction and understanding within yourself.

1. Understand the necessity of loving yourself:

We often feel disgusted when we make mistakes and start hating ourselves. We start associating the error with who we are and end up looking from a hater’s eyes at our own identity. But if you want to move forward in life, try reconnecting with who you are through psychotherapy or reaching out to your close friends. It can also help to read a few self-loving books.

2. Remember, it’s natural to make mistakes:

There is a reason why some actions are referred to as errors. They occur by accident and are not done intentionally. If you fall off a bike while learning to ride it, you don’t have to blame yourself. Just happen some things, and in the future, they teach you to be careful. So, accept and move on with them. Try to let yourself be loosened and embrace the fact that errors occur. Try to understand and learn from the consequences of the mistakes.

3. Understand that being on the same page is not going to change the story:

When we are hit by the full realization of our mistakes, we hold on to them and for a long time tell the story to ourselves again and again. Yes, sometimes we think of the things we could have done to avoid the mistake, but internally we curse ourselves and stress ourselves in the process. Understanding that past actions are in the past is crucial and there is no change in them. You will need to look beyond those mistakes and start living your life to move forward in life and be happy.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeImage Source – Pinterest

4. Figure out which mistakes are actually big:

In our lives, we all make many mistakes–from minor mistakes to life-changing ones. The only way to forgive yourself for these mistakes is to recognize which of your mistakes were large enough that you were caught off guard and had a great impact on your life. Figure the really big mistakes and focus on them.

5. Work first on big mistakes:

Once you’ve figured out the big mistakes, try working on them and fixing them. These mistakes may not always be reasonable, particularly if they have affected other people or aspects of your life. Therefore, in order to process such errors, you might have to step out of your own space, reach out to anyone who may have suffered from their errors and apologize for them. Even yourself.

6. Keep up with your values:

We are all created and governed by an internal moral boom in our childhood and relevant memory. Many of us already know what is right and what is wrong. Your values and beliefs will help you understand that you are inherently a good person after processing your mistakes, and these values will also make you do the right things.

7. Do the best that you can do:

Mistakes are defined almost by actions for which we were not prepared at the time. Without any warning, they could happen all of a sudden, or we could have presumed things to go one way only to realize they don’t. We might even be fully prepared for something to realize that we overestimated our own capabilities later on. Whatever mistake you have made, realize that it must have happened in the spur of a moment, and you don’t need to keep blaming yourself for that. Do your best to correct things, and let go if you can not correct them.

8. Learn from your errors:

With a good understanding of your errors and a realignment of your moral compass with your values, this step can help you from a sane and calm perspective to figure out the whole situation. Take a notebook and write down how this mistake could have been avoided. Although this error may not be rectified, you will at least learn from it and will not repeat it in the future. Allow something good to teach you. You will be better prepared to deal with a similar situation in the future by learning from your mistake and you will also be able to forgive yourself.

9. Remind Yourself That the Mistakes are in the Past:

No preparation, self-love and error processing will make you ready to take a deja-vu or an abrupt leap of remembrance that will bring you back to the dark. Again, faced with a similar situation, you may be afraid to commit the same mistake again. For such situations, a vigilant nature is needed to help you understand that those actions and errors have been in the past, and you are now a better person.

10. Let your morality and your values be your guide:

Try to bring yourself back to life by thinking about your morals and values when dealing with stressful situations. Through morals and values, you will never fall back into the circle of hatred of oneself and guilt, even if you do finally repeat the mistake, and preparation is made for the consequences. All that defines you and your actions are your morals and values.

It’s a process to forgive. It doesn’t happen overnight and for everyone, the process will be different. There is hope, however, no matter how long it takes!

The very act of forgiving oneself is in self – preservation interest, but it is not easy. While much internal help can help you overcome the past, family and friends ‘ love and support will help you move forward in life. You’re also going to realize your life is worth living.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

Do you want to know how to remove toxic people from your life so you can live happier and be greater? Of course you do.

Most of us already know that we should steer clear from toxicity. But not everyone knows how to spot a toxic person or how to forgive themselves for being around one for so long.

We’ll go over both of those topics. But first you need to know (1) why you shouldn’t put up with toxicity and (2) why you did in the first place.

Why you should remove toxic people from your life.

As a general rule, people don’t change unless their own life circumstances demand it. And when you are someone who tolerates toxicity, it’s a safe bet that you won’t be a source of their change.

Here’s the truth you need to know –

All the toxicity you put up with isn’t worth it.

Read that line again.

All the toxicity you put up with isn’t worth it.

This is serious.

People who behave like this subconsciously make you believe they have something to offer.

What they deliver is underwhelming and the value you’re holding out for doesn’t exist. Their toxicity and superior attitude is unfounded. You were deceived by the act, the illusion.

You’ve mistaken a vampire for a magician.

You sat down for a drink with a vampire in hopes of learning tricks-of-the-trade and a magician’s secret.

Only to realize you’ve been drinking their poison straight out of your glass. While you poured your own life’s blood into theirs.

Before you learn how to remove toxic people from your life, you must remind yourself that the world is better than you think.

Answer the following two questions honestly:

(1) Are you a kind-hearted person?
(2) Have you been around cool, decent people?

If you can honestly say that deep down you’re a good-hearted person, there’s a high chance you attract narcissists. That’s right, you attract narcissists.

You may have been brought up to follow their lead. The same way they’ve been raised to take your lead. Both being on opposing sides of the social spectrum due to unconscious programming.

When you’re frequently around toxicity, you forget that you’ve met many cool and nice people in your life. Toxic people are capable of leaving big impressions on your idea of humanity like that. Even worse, they leave you with shitty ideas about yourself.

This is why they are toxic. This is why they are “spiritual vampires”.

How do you know if you’re around a toxic person?

Rate your interactions on a scale of 1 – 5
1 = Toxic | 5 = Healthy

This idea of rating your interactions comes from this article on Mike Cernovich’s blog. I also highly recommend his book Gorilla Mindset.

Have you seen the dead look in people’s eyes? People with “soulless” eyes are almost incapable of living in the moment. Instead they are focusing on an inner pain.

This inner pain is caused by excess cortisol and leads to depression. When you fall into depression you stop taking action.

This is why it’s important to stay away from people who leave you feeling worse in every interaction. They get dopamine for poisoning you.

You need distance. Learn to despise these people so you can have energy to move forward. Rather than spend the finite energy you have on trying to stay afloat.

How to forgive yourself, drink the antidote, and move forward with your life.

To forgive yourself you must be able to conjure up a life lesson that you can apply for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you’ll judge yourself for foolishly paying a high price for nothing.

Your ego needs a takeaway from the experience to justify being in that situation in the first place. It also needs it to be a different lesson than any you’ve had before.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned by being put through these types of situations:

  • You can’t control another person’s actions
  • People’s hearts are as different as their thumbprints
  • Not all family members are worth having around
  • You need to establish your boundaries

Now is the time to seriously filter the people you surround yourself with. Because if you don’t, they’ll give you a toxic view of the world and yourself.

After you reconcile with yourself you’ll understand that wounds take time to heal. Give it time. Enforce your life lesson and stay away from the problem.

The lifelong treatment to living a happier life after you remove toxic people.

Most of your problems exist in the mind. Feelings of anger, sadness, resentment all come from stories you replay in your head.

One of the most underrated skills of all time is the ability to set the mind aside.

You can reconcile with your mind by negotiating the value you received for the price you paid. Which will help you with self-forgiveness and soul-suffocating obsession.

After you’re done negotiating with the mind, it’s important that you set it aside and simply be in the moment. Remind yourself that the moment is all that matters now.

When you can train yourself to set the mind aside you will free yourself from disappointing pasts and fearful futures. Instead you will be able to live more happily in the moment.

We’ll go over how to set the mind aside in a future post.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

MENTAL FREEDOM helps you rebuild and train your mind.

If you have trouble asserting yourself towards others, chances are you didn’t learn to think, feel, or act for yourself.

Lots of people, both men and women, haven’t been able to live up to their potential because of these mental shackles.

That’s why I created the Mental Freedom ebook.

To show you how to remove the shackles of your past, liberate your mind in the present, and give you the mental freedom you need for the future.

Resilience dictionary meaning- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Resilience is the quality that allows knocked down people to come back stronger than before. For some people resilience as a characteristic trait comes naturally while others have to work a little hard to build it. No matter where you fall, we’ll help you on how to build resilience and fight out in life. Come back stronger for you are an eternal shine.

Developing resilience is a skill that takes time. Be patient, practice it, and you’ll get there for sure. Here are a few techniques to build resilience and move forward in life.

8 ways of how to build resilience and move forward in life

1.Find your purpose

Life can be unfair sometimes. But if you focus on the negative, then that’s what will reflect in your life. Train your mind to channelize the energy in something creative, so that you can work towards the ultimate purpose of your life.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeLove what you do. Do what you love!
Source – notonthehighstreet

Involve yourself in community work, talk to likeminded people, join support groups, and participate in constructive activities. You could also take up a long lost hobby or passion.

2. Pump up positivity levels

Life is all about ups and downs, and it is very easy to be de-motivated during the lows. But what makes you strong is the will to keep moving ahead in life.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeMake today so awesome, yesterday gets jealous.
Source -possibilitychange

I agree that there are tough times when you feel nothing’s right. Hold on! Keeping a positive outlook towards life and finding encouragement in every situation helps greatly.

Resilient people tend to find silver lining in even the worst of circumstances and that’s what makes them special. Find your silver lining, it’s there for sure.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeRadiate positivity and attract positivity.
Source – picturequotes

3. Learn to accept and forgive

The first step towards building resilience and moving forward in life is to accept the situation and to make peace with it. Try not to blame the consequences on yourself and forgive yourself. We all are dealing with demons and difficulties in our own way.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeDon’t be too harsh on yourself lovelies. Take it easy.
Source – andrea de leon

Remember when you forgive, you cannot change the past, but you can shape a happier future. Be good to yourself! Do something every single day that makes you smile.

4. Be open to change

Change is the only constant! Be open to change to build resilience and move forward in life. When you’re more adaptable, you are better prepared to respond to difficult situations in life.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeOld ways won’t open new doors. Accept change with happiness.
Source – deprapassquella

Adjusting to change can cause difficulty, but when you have the will to keep moving forward then any change cannot become a hurdle in your life path. Embrace change and see the positive in it.

5. Take care of yourself

Take care of your health – physical and mental. Eat well, exercise, and rest. Also don’t forget to take time off and do something that you love. When you’re stressed you tend to ignore your needs – loss of appetite, not taking care of your health, unhealthy eating and what not. Take care of yourself to build resilience and be prepared to give the challenges of life a tough competition.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeYou can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
Source – w-dog

Tip: Taking mental breaks at regular intervals is greatly beneficial. It helps you to unwind and reduces the chances of you becoming overwhelmed and reacting in a negative way.

6. Work on your problem-solving skills

It is easy to focus on the problem, but it takes heart to find solutions. People who focus on finding solutions to life problems are able to cope up with tough situations better. Experiment with different solutions and have a flexible approach.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeSee the wider perspective of the problem to find solutions.
Source – tonextraining

Whenever you face a problem, assess the pros and cons of it. And always think logically. Head over heart is something that I always abide by and have always benefitted from it.

7. Establish realistic goals

Often we establish goals for ourselves, but they are so out of reach that it is almost impossible to achieve them. Thus, establishing realistic goals is the key to success.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeSet goals that you can achieve and be proud of yourself.
Source – tearsfromyesterday

Make short term goals that you can achieve with ease. Reward yourself for achieving them and learn from your mistakes. If you find yourself stuck, step back and assess the situation. Most things work fine, including you when you unplug.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeUnplug and Unwind to find all the answers within.
Source -annstreetstudio

8. Keep enhancing your skills

Resilience takes time to build. Don’t be discouraged of failures. Instead keep enhancing your skills and work upon your skills. Develop characteristics of resilience like – strong social connections, sense of control, ability to ask for help, identifying as a survivor and not as victim.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier lifeThose who have the power of working on their dreams are the real heroes.
Source -imcites

Hope these tips on ‘how to build resilience’ help you cross those obstacles and triumph in life. For more such amazing posts on self betterment, fashion, and lifestyle, follow us on – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

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There are many important qualities that can contribute to a person’s achievements and happiness, but there is only one that begets sustainable, long-term success in all aspects of life: self discipline. Whether in terms of your diet, fitness, work ethic or relationships, self discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately, be happy.

According to a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman, people with high self control are happier than those without. The study discovered this is true because the self disciplined subjects were more capable of dealing with goal conflicts. These people spent less time debating whether to indulge in behaviors detrimental to their health, and were able to make positive decisions more easily. The self disciplined did not allow their choices to be dictated by impulses or feelings. Instead, they made informed, rational decisions on a daily basis without feeling overly stressed or upset.

(Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn DeLight)

Despite what many may think, self discipline is a learned behavior. It requires practice and repetition in your day-to-day life. To improve your own self discipline, test out these 5 proven methods for gaining better control. This regimen will help you to establish good habits, break bad ones, and improve your control by making simple changes to your everyday routine. Improved self discipline will allow you to live a freer life by helping you to make healthy choices, not emotional ones. Give it a shot. Your happiness will thank you for it.

1. Remove temptations. Self control is often easiest when abiding by the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Removing all temptations and distractions from your environment is a crucial first step when working to improve your self discipline. If you are trying to have better control of your eating, toss the junk food. Ask your office intern to leave you off of the daily lunch order email. If you want to improve your focus while working, turn off your cell phone and remove the clutter from your desk. If you’re really having trouble, download the SelfControl app on your computer to block distraction websites – Facebook, Youtube, even e-mail – for a set period of time. Set yourself up for success by ditching the bad influences.

2. Eat regularly and healthily. Studies have shown that low blood sugar often weakens a person’s resolve. When you’re hungry, your ability to concentrate suffers as your brain is not functioning to its highest potential. Hunger makes it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand, not to mention making you grumpy and pessimistic. You are much more likely to have a weakened sense of self control in all areas of our life – diet, exercise, work, relationships. you name it. In order to stay on track, make sure that you are well fueled throughout the day with healthy snacks and meals every few hours. I personally make sure to always have some almonds or Muscle Milk on hand. These snacks ensure that I can get a dose of healthy protein and fats throughout the day when needed. Eating often regulates your blood sugar levels and improves your decision making skills and concentration. Allow you brain to focus on your goals and priorities instead of on your growling stomach.

3. Don’t wait for it to “feel right.” Improving your self discipline means changing up your normal routine, which can be uncomfortable and awkward. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, explains that habit behaviors are traced to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia – a portion of the brain associated with emotions, patterns, and memories. Decisions, on the other hand, are made in the prefrontal cortex, a completely different area. When a behavior becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and instead function on auto-pilot. Therefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do. The solution? Embrace the wrong. Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or good or natural. Keep chugging along. It will happen.

4. Schedule breaks, treats, and rewards for yourself. Self discipline does not mean your new regimen needs to be entirely cold turkey, hard core, or drill sergeant-like in execution. In fact, giving yourself zero wiggle room often results in failures, disappointments, and giving into your old ways. While practicing self control, schedule specific breaks, treats, and rewards for yourself. Dieting? Designate Saturday as ice cream sundae day. Trying to lose weight? Treat yourself with a fancy massage after a month of gym trips. Working on controlling your spending? Allow yourself a $25 splurge at the mall on Sunday. (Leave the credit cards at home, and bring cash only). Self discipline can be hard. Reward your effort.

5. Forgive yourself and move forward. Instituting a new way of thinking won’t always go according to plan. You will have ups and downs, fabulous successes, and flat out failures. The key is to keep moving forward. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. It is easy to get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration, but these emotions will not help build improve self discipline. Instead, use the hiccups in your plan as learning experiences for the future. Forgive yourself, and get back in the saddle ASAP. The longer you’re off your game, the harder it is to keep going in a positive direction.

I go beyond training with a straight-talking approach to wellness that focuses on an overall healthy lifestyle. For years I’ve educated celebrities and corporate…

I go beyond training with a straight-talking approach to wellness that focuses on an overall healthy lifestyle. For years I’ve educated celebrities and corporate executives on how to effectively incorporate fitness and nutrition into their busy everyday lives. I’ve appeared on Extra, The Doctors, Good Morning America and The Today Show. I’ve been a featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, and am often quoted in People, Glamour, Woman’s Health and the Los Angeles Times. I’m also the author of No Gym Required – Release Your Inner Rock Star and Strong is the New Skinny– How to Eat, Live, and Move to Maximize Your Power. Beyond training, I’m the president and CEO of fitness and wellness brand NGR – No Gym Required – and I am the lifestyle and fitness spokesperson for world-class brands including Muscle Milk, Polar Heart Rate Monitors and Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers recently appointed me as their overall national spokesperson and trainer in the 5 DVD Points Plus Program workout series.

Here’s how to finally move on, no matter what you did.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Maybe you spent half the month’s food budget on a new coat, didn’t get to your son’s soccer match before the second half, put your mom in a nursing home, or, when the cat’s yowling got on your nerves, you let him outside where he was promptly hit by a car.

It’s tough to forgive yourself, and you may think your friends and family would never forgive you either if they knew half of what you do. Unfortunately, you know the whole. And the sheer weight of it rocks you with guilt and sinks you with shame.

Probably one of the few people who can tell you how to forgive yourself is psychologist Fred Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. For years, Luskin has conducted studies and workshops on forgiveness, working with men who’ve cheated on their wives, kids who’ve dumped their parents, and a whole lot worse.

But the biggest obstacle to self-forgiveness is our tendency to wallow in our own guilt, he told Prevention. “It’s not just that we feel bad because we know we’ve done wrong,” Luskin explains. Everybody does that. But some of us actually draw those bad feelings around ourselves like a blanket, cover our heads, and refuse to stop the wailing.

If that sounds nuts to you, you’re not alone. But some of us try to use those bad feelings like a talisman to ward off the consequences of our actions, says Luskin. We curl up in a ball and say, “Hey! Look how bad I feel! See how I’m suffering! I’m pitiful! I’m pathetic! I can’t be punished any more than this; it wouldn’t be fair!”

“It’s a crazy form of penance,” adds Luskin. Instead of taking responsibility for what we’ve done by trying to repair the damage or make things right, many of us unconsciously decide to punish ourselves by feeling miserable for the rest of our lives.

The long-term health effects of guilt

Unfortunately, the decision to feel miserable for the rest of your life can have tragic consequences. And not always in obvious ways.

For one thing, misery loves company. “If you keep beating yourself up, then the person who tries to love you is going to get beat up, too,” explains Luskin. It’s inevitable. Anyone who’s wallowing in guilt is going to be more withdrawn, more critical, and less open than they normally would. So whoever’s around—your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, even your dog—is going to suffer right along with you.

But the suffering doesn’t stop with those around you. Mind affects body in a zillion interconnecting ways, and those guilty feelings you’re nurturing are generating chemicals that are headed straight for your vital organs. They increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, disrupt your digestion, tense your muscles, dump cholesterol into your bloodstream, and reduce your ability to think straight. And every time you remember what you did and wince, those bad feelings give you a fresh hit of corrosive chemicals.

It’s no wonder that studies on forgiveness have led scientists to suspect that those who have difficulty forgiving are more likely to experience heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, and other ills.

“Forgiveness is a tool with which we face what we’ve done in the past, acknowledge our mistakes, and move on. It does not mean that you condone or excuse what happened. It does not mean that you forget,” says Luskin. “There’s a season for our suffering and regret. We have to have that. But the season ends; the world moves on. And we need to move on with it.”

Here are 12 ways to find self-forgiveness—no matter what you’ve done.

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Methods to improve your emotional health and time with family and friends

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

During the holiday season, as we reunite with family, friends, and loved ones, it may be difficult to face unresolved relationship struggles, or be with those with whom we may not always see eye to eye. Social gatherings can create an awkward proximity to those who have caused us discomfort or pain, leaving us tense or frustrated and wanting to disengage.

Instead of sitting this one out, this could be a chance for you to ‘sit-in’ with yourself for a moment to come to terms with the difficult situations that you have endured, with the intention to transform your feelings of disharmony into tenacity and strength. A method to do this is the practice of forgiveness.

Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital states, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.” Johns Hopkins Medicine further describes that, “Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and an immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”

We don’t need to forget, but we can choose to forgive. We can feel anger, sadness, hurt and pain, and then we can decide if we want to forgive. It’s our choice and it’s one of the greatest choices we have. Celebrated author, Don Miguel Ruiz of The Four Agreements, writes, “Forgiveness is for your own mental healing. You forgive because you feel compassion for yourself. Forgiveness is an act of self-love.”

Transforming how we feel about the past can change how we frame our future. It can give us the opportunity to make room to heal, reconcile, or foster new, trusting relationships with others. Forgiveness can help us step out of our story, step back into our power, and free ourselves from shame, bitterness, resentment and hurt.

The health benefits of forgiveness

The Mayo Clinic suggests that, “Forgiveness, can lead to healthier relationships, improved mental health, less stress and reduced hostility.” The dilemmas that cause us mental and emotional anguish and stress, exhaust our nervous system and deplete our energy. Over time, these prolonged emotional and mental states can erode our health and well-being, leaving us fatigued. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D, of Psychology Today, writes, “People who forgive more readily are less likely to be depressed and anxious, and more likely to be happy. These physical and psychological qualities could all be key in predicting a longer life. The way you respond when you feel wronged, or when you seek even forgiveness of yourself, has a variety of health-boosting effects.”

Research also shows that forgiveness can affect our mental perception and our physical strength. When we let go of the burden of our troubles and feel a sense of forgiveness, we can literally “perceive hills to be less steep, and jump higher in an ostensible fitness test.” The research goes on to demonstrate that “forgivers perceive a less daunting world, and perform better on challenging physical tasks.” This illustrates that forgiveness can literally lighten the physical burdens we bear and shift our perception to redeem hope for what is possible, making physical tasks more achievable and life goals within reach.

Forgiveness does not pardon the perpetrator, but it does gives us strength to move forward, to express compassion and to let go of the negative feelings that we are holding onto. Truly letting go takes time and begins with one step, so it’s important to seek the right counsel to support what you need as you go through your process.

Practicing forgiveness

Karen Swartz, M.D. at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, breaks down the process of forgiveness into 4 parts: “Forgiveness training is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques, but the goal is the same: Identify the problem, give it time and get objective input. That input doesn’t have to come from a mental health professional. It could come from a close friend or a religious adviser.”

  • Identify the problem(s)
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Observe and challenge your own responses
  • Transform your perception to positive outlook
  • Here are also a few tips that can help.

Feel

Honour your feelings without judgement and allow yourself to feel fully or grieve as a means to let go. Establish what forgiveness means to you. Remember that forgiveness does not depend on the other person’s response to your forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that you need to reconcile, it could simply mean that you are ready to let go and move on. Know that forgiveness is a practice to help you and recognize if there is the need to self-forgive. If you feel that you need to forgive yourself, do so with compassion and love and try not to self-blame.

Unite

Surround yourself with people that care about you and support you. Forgiveness does not mean that we remain alone in a conflicted or toxic situation. It is a means that you acknowledge your experiences and heal with the help of balanced and healthy relationships around you.

Express

Write out your story as a witness. Examine the story, reflect and contemplate the circumstance from the witness perspective of all characters and actions involved. Then, see if you can separate the emotions from the characters and observe how you feel about the emotions, and then, how you feel about the characters. This creates the opportunity to see the story from another perspective in order to gain more clarity. Next, write out the story a second time with a resolution where you are able to feel empowered and resolved. This will help you to understand your expectations and may give the story a different perspective or meaning.

Contemplate

Take time and space for yourself. Remember to focus on what you love and your intention to heal. This can also help you to get centred, gain perspective and focus on the positive aspects of your life. If you feel conflicted, contemplate, “Is there is a benefit to holding onto the anger, shame, fear or pain?” Observe your answers without judgement. Ask yourself, “What would it mean if I forgave?” Remember that forgiveness does not mean that you agree with what has happened or that you approve of it. There can still be justice if you choose to forgive.

Seek counsel

Depending on your experiences, you may want to seek counsel and advice from friends, a therapist, family or a counsellor.

Editor’s note: Jay Shetty is a motivational speaker and former monk focusing on emotional wellness. Below is his advice on learning to forgive yourself and moving forward.

One of the most common questions I get asked is how people should move on from disappointing, challenging or unexpected situations. While there are many answers to this question based on the specifics of the experience, one thing that always stands out to me is the process of self-forgiveness. So much emphasis is placed on learning to forgive others in life that sometimes we are almost blind to the possibility of the block being something internal.

It is absolutely natural to feel guilt, shame and pain if you’ve hurt someone, offended a loved one, argued with a co-worker or are just not happy with yourself. Forgiveness is not about just “letting go” of those feelings, but dealing with them in a constructive manner. As the saying goes, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

The simple act of moving forward can benefit you in the long run: Studies show that an inability to self-forgive can play a role in anxiety and depression.

Below are a few steps you can take to learn to let go of your self-resentment. This is a process, and you should take as long as you need at each step ― but remind yourself that you must move forward.

1. Acknowledge your emotions.

This is probably the phase you’re in right now. Feel free to acknowledge how you feel and how you’ve made someone else feel, if that is the case. Allow yourself to observe your reasons, justifications and self-blame.

2. Accept what happened.

Accept responsibility for what you’ve done. In this stage, you want to move away from your excuses, justifications and blaming others and how that may have affected you. Without accepting responsibility, any form of self-forgiveness will be naïve, immature and hollow.

3. Adopt a new way of thinking about the mistake.

At this stage, you want to adopt an empathetic mindset as opposed to a self-blame mindset. Feeling negative doesn’t empower you or motivate you to make the changes that are needed to avoid feeling like this in the future. If you carry old bricks from your past experiences, you can only build the same house that fell apart in the first place. You are more likely to repeat a mistake if you don’t learn from it, and learning requires empathy and compassion. When a child falls over, it is lifted up with love, empathy and compassion to try again. We must practice this with ourselves.

4. Atone for the error.

Remind yourself that the greatest way of forgiving yourself and overcoming all your pain, doubt and guilt, is transforming your behavior. Real atonement is change in our intentions and actions.

5. Appreciate your progress.

Take time to appreciate that you can overcome your guilt, self-blame and feelings of pain. Appreciate that you can make changes in your life to avoid similar experiences in the future. Appreciate that you can create a new way of living.

Need a little more help? Check out the video clip below for a helpful meditation on forgiveness from Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Wake Up to the Joy of You.

How to forgive yourself and move forward for a happier life

We have all made mistakes, we have all done stupid things, we all have a regret or two (maybe more) but in order to move forward and live a joyful life, one must forgive oneself. Many times we find it harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive others. Why do we hold ourselves at a higher standard than others? We must remember, nobody is perfect. Accept your imperfections, you are human.

It is important not only to forgive yourself, but learn from your mistakes. More importantly, if it’s a reoccurring mistake, it is imperative to find out what is triggering you to make the same mistake over and over.

If you don’t forgive yourself, you’ll live in darkness. You cannot become the best version of yourself and carry out God’s plan if you are living in darkness. By forgiving yourself, you take off the sunglasses that darken your view of yourself and your life; you’ll see more clearly and live in the light. In order to love others, you must first love yourself……love heals all wounds over time. Live in love for yourself and others.

The following steps are designed to help you learn to forgive yourself.

  • Don’t let your mistake or mistakes define you. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 Even the best laid plans go awry, so forgive yourself so you can get back on the path that will lead you to the good works God needs you to carry out, which, in turn, leads to a joyful, fulfilling life.
  • Try to understand WHY you made the mistake in the first place.You must learn from your mistakes or you’re doomed to make them again. Sit in silence and reflect on how the mistake happened. What circumstances lead up to the mistake? What could or should I have done to avoid making the mistake? Was this mistake a “wake-up call” so I didn’t make a more grievous mistake further down the road?
  • Consider how your life would be if you don’t forgive yourself. Not only do you allow yourself to remain stuck in the past, but not forgiving yourself takes a huge toll on your emotional and physical health. Inability to forgive is sourced from anger and resentment, two emotions that can wreak havoc with your health. Numerous studies have shown that people stuck in constant anger, worry, fear or guilt are more prone to disease and illness than people who can learn to forgive both themselves and others.
  • Forgiving is not forgetting. Obviously you can’t erase your mistakes from your memory. There is a frequent misunderstanding that forgiveness equates to forgetting or condoning. This misunderstanding can lead you to feel that it is not right to forgive yourself. But the truth is by forgiving yourself and learning from your mistake, over time , you will distance yourself from the negative feelingsyou had connected to the mistake. It’s about leaving aside the resentment and self-inflicted berating that comes with remembering. Once you have forgiven yourself, STOP thinking about it. When it pops in your mind, don’t dwell on it, remind yourself that you’re forgiven and replace that thought with positive thoughts about yourself. Remind yourself that you are a good person and think for a moment about all your good attributes. Focus on the positive.
  • Let go of other people’s expectations of you. You cannot please everyone, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by trying to do so. If you are stuck in a self-loathing mindset because of what others have said to you or because they put high expectations on you, forgiving yourself is essential. Nobody has the right to hold you up to higher expectations than you are capable of. Don’t beat yourself up because you “let someone down”. As long as you are doing the best you can, what else can you do? Do what is pleasing to God….in the end, His expectations are all that matter.
  • Seek counsel. If you are Catholic go to reconciliation. Talk to the priest. Ask for forgiveness. Find a spiritual counselor to visit once a month. God is loving and forgiving. His grace covers a multitude of blame, guilt, and sin. It is beyond our understanding but it’s the truth. Seek His forgiveness first and you will find it easier to forgive yourself.
  • Daily tips to help you through the process of forgiving yourself.
    • Meditation – When you begin to meditate, make a commitment to continue for three months. Set aside ten to fifteen minutes each day, and choose a comfortable quite place for your meditation. Take seven to ten deep breaths and think positive thoughts. Visualize yourself in a state of complete happiness. Open your mind to ways to improve yourself and your life. Keep all thoughts positive. Done regularly, meditation will improve your well-being and sense of self.
    • Affiirmation – Remind yourself regularly that you are a beautiful and loved human being that deserves happiness. Replace all negative thoughts with positive ones. Zig Ziglar offers a morning and evening “self-talk” card that is free to help you build up your self-esteem. It is available here.
    • Journal – Write down your feelings and draw pictures. Maybe you start your journal exploring the negative feelings and thoughts about your mistake, but once you express those feelings and get them “out of your system”, immediately begin to journal and draw all the good things about you and your life. Draw pictures or journal about loved ones in your life. Reflect on the people that depend on you and how by forgiving yourself you will be able to become the best version of yourself which will also improve their lives.
    • Atonement – Decide to make a sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness. If you try all of the above steps and still not feel forgiven or feel that you need to do more, create a “sacrifice”. Ask yourself, what is my offering? The offering needs to be something that requires a sacrifice of your time, money or effort. Maybe you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or food bank every week for a month or more, volunteer at a hospital or a women’s shelter. Ask your church where help is needed and make a commitment to be there to help. There are many institutions that need volunteers. Maybe you take a percentage of your income to donate to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities or Wounded Warriors. Do some research and find an area that interests you, then dive in with all your heart and soul. The key is to consciously make that sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness.
    • Prayer – Pray every day…..even after you have forgave yourself. Pray for guidance. Pray for mercy. Pray for grace. Pray for wisdom. Pray “Come Holy Spirit to guide me and guard me”. This will bring you closer to God which will give you peace of mind.

I hope you find this article helpful. The world is full of people who suffer. We must not be the bearer of our own suffering. We must be strong for others and to do that we must overcome our mistakes and guilt. Don’t live in the dark, live in the light, for there you will find God.